Blind or Contour drawing is a favourite with drawing teachers to develop hand-eye communication. It is essentially outline drawing, and blind contour drawing means drawing the outline of the subject without looking at the paper.
The end result doesn’t matter. What is important is carefully observing the subject in order to follow contours and space, with your hand and eye. This trains your brain to tap into its right hemisphere, which aids us in drawing shapes, lines and angles, positive and negative space, instead of objects that we can “name.” Naming objects is the domain of the left brain, logical, realistic but also one that shackles our drawing ability to that of a ten year old.
Above you can see my first blind drawing. My vegetable patch in the back yard. One can just make out the garden edging and the tomato plants, and stakes. I used a soft B pencil which made a nice effect when I drew on the rough Gesso finish of a hard cardboard backed frame. I painted a little colour in a pen and wash technique and then soaked it in tea overnight. I added a little outlining in pen. I was surprised by how much my right brain could do without the dominant left hemisphere taking over.
A “Blind” drawing for 20 minutes of a very mundane object can often lead to an unusual artistic creation in itself. Yet if you let your dominant logical side take over, it will pull up the objects in sight from its catalogue of known things to draw. This will result in a standard version that you might have drawn as a child, and will not be a drawing of angles and shapes in front of you. Yet it is precisely angles and shapes that your mind needs to concentrate on in order to draw better. Left brain sees the whole object and tries to get your hand to replicate it. Right brain sees negative space, angles and shapes which let the drawing become more fluid, more natural and more realistic.
And then you can play with a lot of colour and effects… that is the relaxing part!
Good luck…. Here is my most recent attempt:
How to Make a Blind Drawing
What You Need: A4 sketch paper and pencil or pen. Optional – Paint/ Ink
- In this exercise, find a subject to draw and using a soft pencil, draw it without looking at your paper. Avoid lifting the pencil from the paper so that the line is as continuous as possible, and most importantly, DON’T look at your paper. If need be, work with your sketchbook under the table. If drawing on loose paper, you may need to tape it in place.
2. Now, draw your hand! Place the pencil near the bottom of the page, then looking at the edge of the wrist, begin to follow the line, going very slowly and steadily. Try to make your pencil follow every slight curve and bump. When you get to a crease, follow it in then back out to the side and carry on. Don’t rush. Concentrate on observing every little detail.
Review: When you’ve gone all around the hand, stop and look at the end results. Funny? But look how some areas of your drawing are amazingly accurate. Sure, the large areas might be out of proportion to each other, but you will notice that some parts are far better drawn than when you were looking at the paper!
Going Further: You can also try this exercise with other objects – leafy plants or furniture. People and animals can be pretty funny too, and it is great observational practice.
A great idea is to swap ecards /postcards with a friend, doing a 20 minute blind drawing, enhancing it a little with colour or other things, stamps, ribbon, stickers anything. Everyone loves something in the mail. It can be as creative as you like, or just a simple pencil drawing.
Something to Ponder About